The Magazine  

ISSUE 152, APRIL 24, 2018




More favourites!

We are incredibly thankful to you all for your overwhelming response to the launch of our Authentication scheme. If you missed the last issue, let us repeat just briefly that Authentication implies confirmation that you are known to NomadMania, and upon this confirmation, you will receive a green 'badge' on your profile. We have pre-authenticated a number of travellers and are piloting the whole procedure for now until it is perfected. A few of you expressed concern at not having been authenticated, perhaps because you are not aware of what this entails, but at this stage this means very little; we just want to have you contact us about this since we are piloting the whole procedure and want to start with those who really want to be authenticated to gauge interest in this. Please be understanding given our small team size as the response to this has already been beyond any of our expectations.

We have already been contacted by a few of you regarding the new name of Swaziland as announced by the country's king. However, we will be following the official UN page on this matter, and in general with all official changes there is usually a long period until the 'new' really takes effect.

We have lots of surprises for you in May and are working toward these throughout this month. For now, we continue the presentation of your favourites as we received them from you, following last issue's first part.

Your favourite Museum
The winner here is the British Museum, which got mentioned seven times. Other favourites are the Metropolitan in New York, the Musee d'Orsay in Paris and the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. MoNa in Hobart was mentioned three times as well. A few more unusual mentions are: Vapriikki Centre in Tampere, Turkmen Carpet Museum in Ashgabat, the Victorious War Museum in Pyongyang, the Ethnographic Museum close to Bruneck in Tyrol, a small museum in Jordan, Montana which has dinosaur bones and 18th century US history artifacts, the Chariot Museum in Lisbon, the Coca Cola museum near Port Vila in Vanuatu, Jovan Cvijic Museum in Belgrade, Serbia and the Bob Marley museum in Kingston, Jamaica.

Your favourite Natural Site
Iguassu Falls won hands down in this category, with Grand Canyon a distant second as well as the Okavango Delta. You mentioned so many other sites here it's impossible to list them all. Some notable ones: Semporna Archipelago, Plitvice Lakes, Perito Moreno Glacier, Torres del Paine, Carpathian Mountains, Tenere desert, Mont Blanc, South Georgia, Galapagos, Sutjeska National Park, Akakus Mountains in Libya, Wineglass Bay in Tasmania, Angel Falls in Venezuela, the Pitons on Reunion, Repovesi National Park in FInland, the Dead Sea and Nahuel Huapi.

Your favourite Man-Made (Cultural) Site
Angkor Wat got 15 mentions, the most of any category in the whole survey. Other favourites here are Potala Palace in Lhasa, Machu Picchu, Haghia Sophia, Oxford colleges, the Hill Crosses in Siauliai (Lithuania), Bagan in Myanmar, Tikal in Guatemala, Borobudur Temple in Indonesia, The Great Wall of China, The Taj Mahal, the Moai of Easter island, Santiago de Compostela, the mosques and madrasas of Samarkand, Walt Disney World (seriously!), the Sistine Chapel, Dougga and the entire city of Porto.

Your three favourite countries
At least 100 countries were mentioned. One of the most interesting 3's of one traveller was: Yemen-Albania-Gabon, which is an eclectic choice for sure. Other interesting 3's listed: Iran, USA, Bolivia; Russia, Monaco and Liberland (we leave you to decide if this is a country); USA, Timor-Leste, Malawi; Vietnam, Slovakia, Colombia; Fiji, Israel, Belgium (with a note: it's completely wrecked but I like it!); Somalia, Afghanistan, Syria (liked because they are very dangerous); Botswana, Australia, Germany. 

Your three favourite cities/towns/villages
Paris beat out Berlin by one vote in this category. Lots of others were mentioned, and in a few cases you noted your favourites were your own home towns. Some 'predictable' answers: Tokyo, Melbourne, New York City, Rome, Rio de Janeiro, Shanghai, Copenhagen, Prague, Lisbon, Moscow, London, Cape Town, Istanbul, Munich, Budapest, Kyoto, Marrakesh. Some of the more eclectic responses: Vladikavkaz (Russia), Rovinj (Croatia), Tignes (France), Nis (Serbia), Kanazawa (Japan), Hrodna (Belarus), Bled (Slovenia), Luxor (Egypt), Galway (Ireland), Tbilisi (Georgia), Caleta Tortal (Chile), Paderborn (Germany), Kampala (Uganda), Isfahan (Iran), Queenstown (New Zealand), Penza (Russia), Asmara (Eritrea), Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Monteverde (Costa Rica), Dali (China), Cochin (India), Salento (Colombia).

Three top-ranked places you still haven't visited
A number of experiences seem to represent traveller desires. Socotra and Iceland were mentioned the most times. Also mentioned: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Easter Island, South Pole, Lofoten Islands, Somalia, Kyoto, Iran, Mount Kailash, Timbuktu, Bhutan, Victoria Falls, Svalbard, Tuva, Wallis and Futuna, Samarkand, Damascus, Mount Everest, Leptis Magna, Lake Baikal, North Sentinel Island, BIOT (Chagos), Tahiti, Wrangel Island, Namibia.

Thanks again to all of you who participated in this survey and gave us such a wonderful palette of answers. The final Part III comes in our next issue when we will also launch our next survey!


Temples - Basilica Catedral Nuestra Senora de la Altagracia
Our Temples Series is one of our more recent attempts to highlight religious temples around the world. We have tried to feature all world religions and discover temples which are unique and/or highly important, either from an architectural and aesthetic or from a spiritual point of view. This Series is still a work in progress and we eventually expect it to include 2881 items.

One of the more impressive temples from a design perspective is a cathedral in an unlikely location - the relatively small town of Higuey in eastern Dominican Republic. Designed by two French architects in 1947, It is clearly the highlight of any visit to the town, and its considerable premises dominate the centre. The building took almost two decades to complete, with its inauguration in 1970. It has been visited by two popes, including Pope John Paul II in 1992, and is considered one of the most visited in the whole of Latin America. While the contour may look grey and incomplete, the quite unusual shape and curves of the cathedral make it a truly spectacular sight, as does the red and blue colour of the facade. Within it is the icon of the Virgin Mary of Altagracia.
The curated grounds include a rather interesting museum, where unfortunately photography is strictly prohibited and you will be requested to have a guided visit (most probably in Spanish). The artifacts of the museum include a lot of religious ones dating as far back as the 16th century, making this a real treasure. There is also a section on the history of the cathedral, the visit of the pope, as well as the legend thanks to which the place came to be in the first place: allegedly a long time ago a little girl asked her father for a portrait of the Virgin Mary when he was away travelling and her father brought her the icon which miraculously would appear not in the house but under a small tree every morning; it is at this location that the cathedral was finally built. 


Tery Robin

We are happy to host one of the best travelled Eastern European women - Tery from Bulgaria. Having visited more than 100 UN Countries, this avid blogger and founder of Hitch-hiking around the world, which is one of the most complete travel blogs in her native Bulgarian as well as having an English-language section, has a unique perspective on life and the world.

Tell us something about your early years, your background story and Tery the non-traveller.

Well, it might sound weird but I don't remember the non-traveler in me. Since I was very little the only thing I wanted in life was to travel and experience crazy adventures until the day I die. And this never changed, I want the same today. When I was still at school, I went to the mountains many times without my parent's blessing, I just wanted to hike. And most of all - to be alone with the wild animals. I hated every single day at school, I never was about to fit among other people and had no common interests with anybody. I loved being alone and having time to do my own things like reading books and dreaming about Middle Ages battles. Rules and institutions drove me crazy so I had to quit school when i was 16. Then I started travelling around Bulgaria. I went to small villages, big cities, all mountains, historical sights and pretty much everywhere... I enjoyed so much my freedom, my country and being alone, having all the time to learn and explore. My family is the total opposite, my father doesn't like to even go out of the flat, not to mention out of town. There is no one in my family who gave me the travel bug, it just came from inside.

When I was 11, I became a vegetarian. It was a very easy decision, I took it when I saw dead fish in a fish shop. Till then I didn't realize that meat comes out of killed animals, I thought it comes from the shop just like everything else.  I never wanted to try smoking, alcohol, coffee and drugs so i guess I am one of the few people in Bulgaria who haven't tried any of these in their life. I also never went to a disco, i still think those places are disgusting although I haven't entered one.

My early life was quite easy because I never had the wish to be liked or accepted by anyone. I was kind of a sociopath in my daily life and so am I today. So I was free and enjoyed my freedom. Since very little I knew that i don't want to get married, have children and live a "normal" life. Years passed and nothing ever changed.

Tell us a story from your first travels that has great impact on that who you are today.

When I was in Mumbai, India in November 2008, I was eating at the Victoria train station and one man came to me. He asked me in English if I was from Spain or Italy. I said: "No, I am from Bulgaria". He looked at me very scared, pushed me hard and screamed to me: "Run, run to the platforms!" I thought this man was crazy and I got worried that he would try to grab my backpack and run so I took it and started just walking away. A few minutes later the whole place where I was sitting was a mess, a group of Pakistani terrorists shot many people dead, many foreigners too. One of the terrorists was the person who told me to run, I saw his picture on the Internet later, he was shot by the police. I didn't see what happened because there were just so many people at the station but I saw people running and screaming. That day I realized that terrorists can also be good people and actually help you. This man had no reason to save me but he did it. There is something good in every person even if he is doing terrible things. That day I also realized that I really don't care about my life at all. Until now I have never experienced fear and I think I will die without knowing anything about it.

Another very important thing that travelling taught me is that I need almost nothing. For the last 10 years i live using very little, for example I never use heating even when the temperature in the house is below zero. At home I don't use any electric devices except my laptop, washing machine and cooking stove. I try to use very little water and make very little waste. And I love this way of living. I have a huge problem with people who throw away food because I have seen people dying from starvation during my trips and I have zero respect for consumers in the developed countries.

You are the creator of the ‘Hitchhiking around the world’ blog, so tell us more about that.

The English page of the blog is almost empty because I travel very often and have no time to translate the posts from Bulgarian. The Bulgarian blog is full and up to date and I hope one day I will have more time to translate it. I write in Bulgarian because my priority is the people in my country to be able to read, there are so many travel blogs in English and almost none in Bulgarian. And there are still many people here who speak no English.

I started the blog just before my African hitchhiking trip, the idea was for my family to be able to read what is happening on the journey. Later more and more people started to read it and now it has more than 400 visits a day (the Bulgarian version). I love writing and taking photos so I thought why not share my passion and I never expected that other people would like it and support me. I got donations from readers and also help with equipment, hospitality... I really appreciate all this and enjoy doing what I like to do.

What can't you travel without?
I can't travel without my sleeping bag and my camera. And also a paper notebook where I write every day about the journey. I really appreciate my tent too, I don't want to think what would a trip be like without a tent. I love camping and being independent so a tent is very necessary. And most of all - i can't travel without my thumbs. It would be hard to hitch a ride if I lose them.
Where was the scariest place you have spent night?

There is no scary place for me in this world. There are unpleasant places where you must keep one eye open all night if you don't want to get robbed. But fear never had a place in my life so i haven't been scared anywhere. I have slept in many ghettos, on the streets in horrible overpopulated cities, bushes, deserts, savannas, jungles... Well, if you ask me about the most stinky place i slept in, that would be a toilet :) Also a terrible night I had when camping next to a railway and two trains passed in the night... it was like an earthquake.

How much stuff have you lost while travelling?

I lost an umbrella while hitchhiking in New Zealand, a small bag with around 100 USD in Zambia and that's all. I don't have the habit of losing stuff, I am very disciplined when I travel.

Do you ever send postcards?
Yes, I send some postcards during my trips. People are happy when they receive one and I like to make them happy. I should do that more often though, in the last trips I tend to send more than years ago. The last ones were from the North Cape in Norway, I went there and back by bicycle and was very happy to send the cards from the end of Europe.
If you were condemned to one country for the rest of your life, which one would you choose and why?

That will be Bulgaria. I have been to many countries but there is no one like my own. I like the "golden middle" here. It is not like Western Europe - stuck with rules and crazy regulations and at the same time it's not like the Brazillian favelas for example, where life is worth nothing. There is plenty of nature to enjoy and you can go to really wild and forgotten places. There are rules but you can always go around them and as I like to say: rules are recommended not obligatory! People still don't care too much about it. So, someone like me can breathe free. If I have to choose the perfect country for me, that will be a country with plenty of animals and wild nature, very low human population, warm weather and fruit at least 5-6 months, a large territory to explore, no criminal activities especially robberies, almost no rules and restrictions... So I would love to be condemned to a country with the animals of Kenya, the extreme nature of New Zealand and Norway, the peace of Dominica, the population and territory of Namibia...

And our last question is the one we always ask - if you could invite four people to dinner from any time in human history, who would you invite any why?

I would invite King Arthur, Robin Hood, Shakespeare and Mozart. The first two because I belong to the Middle Ages and have hundreds of things to share and learn from them. Shakespeare because I love all his work and would like to know more about him as a person. And Mozart because he is one of my favourite composers, I grew up with classical music and I would love to have dinner while listening to live classical music, played by him.

The photos in this interview are from Tery's personal collection and we thank her for sharing them with us at NomadMania!
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